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RE: [GTh] Adventures in Wikiland

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  • Judy Redman
    Mike, I think it s good that you are trying to maintain some level of credible scholarship for this Wiki entry, but realistically, most credible scholars don t
    Message 1 of 12 , Mar 1, 2010

      Mike,

       

      I think it’s good that you are trying to maintain some level of credible scholarship for this Wiki entry, but realistically, most credible scholars don’t trust Wikipedia because of just the kind of incident that you are describing.

       

      Maybe you can negotiate an agreement where your links to credible translations and to Stevan’s site and the links to these two dubious translations all stay up?

       

      Judy

       

      --

      Judy Redman
      PhD Candidate, School of Humanities
      University of New England
      Armidale 2351 Australia
      ph:  +61 2 6773 3401
      mob: 0437 044 579
      web: 
       http://judyredman.wordpress.com/
      email: 
       jredman2@...
       

       

      From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Grondin
      Sent: Monday, 1 March 2010 7:13 AM
      To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [GTh] Adventures in Wikiland

       

       

      I've never spent much time at Wikipedia, but I have had to do so
      the last couple days because of a dispute about a change that I
      made. I had deleted two External Links from the Gospel of Thomas
      article (which I believe they call a 'wiki'), and another user undid (or
      "reverted") my change. I have made a very few changes over the
      years, and this is the first time that this has happened to me, so I
      have been trying to learn more (as well as conversing with the user
      in question).

      The external links which I attempted to delete are these:
      (1) http://www.gospelofthomas.info/
      This is a website run by Hugh McGregor Ross. My objection to it
      is that it is basically a spiritual site serving to promote his own faith
      views, but containing very little (if any) factual information not
      available elsewhere at more scholarly sites.

      (2) http://www.sofiatopia.org/equiaeon/thomas.htm
      My objection to this is that the translator has capitalized pronouns
      relating to Jesus. This is not a reputable translational technique.
      The picture is somewhat cloudy, however, because he seems to
      have capitalized all occurrences of 'you' and 'your', even when not
      referring to Jesus. I have written to the author seeking to clarify
      his intentions, but the non-standard capitalization of pronouns is
      enough by itself (IMO) to disqualify this as a reputable translation.
      (BTW, there used to be a section of links to translations at the
      end of the GTh wiki. This section was deleted in January, for
      reasons unknown to me.)

      If these two external links are deleted, that would leave only one -
      to Gnosis.org. I have no problem with that, and have furthermore
      suggested that an External Link to Steve Davies' site be added.

      My wikipedia conversations can be found here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Goethean#Change_in_Gospel_of_Thomas_article
      and here:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Gospel_of_Thomas#Wikipedia:Lead_section

      Please feel free to jump in with your own opinions, either here or
      at Wikipedia.

      Mike Grondin

    • Bob Schacht
      For some reason, I didn t get the original ... Mike, I know that others make disparaging remarks about the wikipedia, but I am one of its fans. Thank you for
      Message 2 of 12 , Mar 1, 2010
        For some reason, I didn't get the original message, so I am replying to the copy in Judy's reply:

        From: gthomas@yahoogroups.com [ mailto:gthomas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Michael Grondin
        Sent: Monday, 1 March 2010 7:13 AM
        To: gthomas@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: [GTh] Adventures in Wikiland

        I've never spent much time at Wikipedia, but I have had to do so
        the last couple days because of a dispute about a change that I
        made. I had deleted two External Links from the Gospel of Thomas
        article (which I believe they call a 'wiki'), and another user undid (or
        "reverted") my change. I have made a very few changes over the
        years, and this is the first time that this has happened to me, so I
        have been trying to learn more (as well as conversing with the user
        in question).

        Mike,
        I know that others make disparaging remarks about the wikipedia, but I am one of its fans.
        Thank you for sharing this process with us. It ought to make us respect the wikipedia all the more.
        Every wikipedia entry has a parallel "discussion" tab, located at the top of the main page of the entry, right above the banner heading for the article. Each article normally opens with the "article" tab selected, but by selecting the "discussion" tab, you can see the debate over controversial elements of the entry. These debates are monitored, to help make sure things don't get out of hand. This is a very useful open feature of wikipedia. I have participated in a few wiki projects myself, and appreciate the knowledge model the wikipedia has, even if it does not always produce the best results. Your efforts to clean up the GTh wiki page are commendable and worthwhile.

        The "Discussion" tab of the Gospel of Thomas Wikipedia article should be a "must read" for everyone here. There are lots of topics, vigorously discussed. Issues raised there can be discussed here. The Discussion is broken up into topic sections, each of which can be "edited." In order to edit, you do have to register with the wikipedia, which helps those monitoring the entry know who you are, and keep things from spiraling out of control.

        The Wikipedia is a remarkable project worthy of support. And "support" includes efforts such as yours to "improve" the article.



        The external links which I attempted to delete are these:
        (1) http://www.gospelofthomas.info/
        This is a website run by Hugh McGregor Ross. My objection to it
        is that it is basically a spiritual site serving to promote his own faith
        views, but containing very little (if any) factual information not
        available elsewhere at more scholarly sites.

        (2) http://www.sofiatopia.org/equiaeon/thomas.htm
        My objection to this is that the translator has capitalized pronouns
        relating to Jesus. This is not a reputable translational technique.
        The picture is somewhat cloudy, however, because he seems to
        have capitalized all occurrences of 'you' and 'your', even when not
        referring to Jesus. I have written to the author seeking to clarify
        his intentions, but the non-standard capitalization of pronouns is
        enough by itself (IMO) to disqualify this as a reputable translation.
        (BTW, there used to be a section of links to translations at the
        end of the GTh wiki. This section was deleted in January, for
        reasons unknown to me.)

        If these two external links are deleted, that would leave only one -
        to Gnosis.org. I have no problem with that, and have furthermore
        suggested that an External Link to Steve Davies' site be added.

        My wikipedia conversations can be found here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Goethean#Change_in_Gospel_of_Thomas_article
        and here:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Gospel_of_Thomas#Wikipedia:Lead_section

        Thanks for including these links. Mike's discussions can also be found by going to the "Discussion" tab and searching for Mike's wikipedia signature, Mwgrondin .


        Please feel free to jump in with your own opinions, either here or at Wikipedia.

        Thanks, Mike!

        Bob Schacht
        Northern Arizona University


        Mike Grondin

      • Jordan Stratford
        ... I couldn t disagree more. Some months ago, a single individual marked a dozen articles on contemporary Gnosticism for deletion. He did this out of
        Message 3 of 12 , Mar 1, 2010
          On 1-Mar-10, at 7:03 AM, Bob Schacht wrote:

          > The Wikipedia is a remarkable project worthy of support.

          I couldn't disagree more. Some months ago, a single individual marked
          a dozen articles on contemporary Gnosticism for deletion. He did this
          out of personal grudge. When this went to "debate" (which was really
          repetitions of the same name notability argument actually contradicted
          by Wikipedia's own standards) readers learned, among other things,
          U.S. News and World Report was not a credible third-party source, that
          multiple citations in doctoral work and course material were not
          relevant, that academic presses were just vanity presses, etc.

          Wiki editors, in my experience, participate out of ego, and to ensure
          the posting of their article on their garage band, pet hamster, or
          World of Warcraft character. So I'm hardly surprised that anyone new
          to the table would be simply ignored, regardless of the validity of
          their argument. I've seen excellent, scholarly articles decompose in
          weeks into conspiracy theories, factual errors, and "because I said
          so" rants by Wikipedia autocrats. It's Lord of the Flies over there.
          So Mike, you have my sympathies.


          Jordan
        • Judy Redman
          Jordan says: ... I couldn t disagree more. Some months ago, a single individual marked a dozen articles on contemporary Gnosticism for deletion. He did this
          Message 4 of 12 , Mar 2, 2010

            Jordan says:

             

            On 1-Mar-10, at 7:03 AM, Bob Schacht wrote:

            > The Wikipedia is a remarkable project worthy of support.

            I couldn't disagree more. Some months ago, a single individual marked
            a dozen articles on contemporary Gnosticism for deletion. He did this
            out of personal grudge.

            I know that the quality of articles in Wikipedia varies depending on the subject matter. Unfortunately, Gnosticism appears to be one of those areas about which (some) people feel very strongly and are prepared to go to significant lengths to ensure that their own particular biases are represented. Other subjects are much less subject to this kind of thing, so some of the material up there is very balanced and informative. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the medium there is no guarantee of quality. There is a saying amongst my daughter’s friends which reflects the problem very well:

            “Of course it’s true. You know it’s true. Do I have to put it up on Wikipedia to prove it to you?”

            I actually use Wikipedia as a starting point for many things, but I never expect it to provide me with anything more than general information, and I always check the info carefully from more reliable sources if it matters that it’s correct. I therefore don’t think it’s worth putting too much time or emotional energy into trying to stop either of the people Mike and Jordan mention. We just need to make it known that these are two areas where Wikipedia is anything but balanced and accurate. By all means state the objections, but other than taking the matter to the people in charge, I don’t see what else can be done.

            Regards

            Judy

          • Michael Grondin
            Just to give you all an example of the inaccuracies of Wikipedia, I ve just this morning corrected a sentence in the early portion of the GThom entry.
            Message 5 of 12 , Mar 2, 2010
              Just to give you all an example of the inaccuracies of Wikipedia,
              I've just this morning corrected a sentence in the early portion of
              the GThom entry. Referring to Codex II, it stated:

              "This ancient papyrus codex, written in Coptic ... around the year 100 ..."

              There was a footnote to the last phrase, referring to p.12 of Richard
              Valantasis' 1997 book, but in the cited passage (actually on p.13 of my
              copy), Valantasis was discussing the dating of the original text, not
              the Coptic codex. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the Coptic
              codex was probably produced around the mid-300's. So anyway, I
              removed the phrase "around the year 100" and its associated footnote.
              We'll see if this gets blocked, but I don't think it will, since I had put
              an explanatory note on the discussion page a few days ago.

              But to balance this view of Wikipedia, consider the following article,
              which appeared in 2005 and was cited on the b-blog "Vridar" in
              support of Wikipedia:

              http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2005/12/69844

              Mike Grondin
            • Bob Schacht
              ... Mike, You are doing the right thing, to engage in the discussion. The wrong thing is to sit here, with knowledge of the evidence, and, without engaging
              Message 6 of 12 , Mar 2, 2010
                At 01:59 PM 3/2/2010, Michael Grondin wrote:
                 

                Just to give you all an example of the inaccuracies of Wikipedia,
                I've just this morning corrected a sentence in the early portion of
                the GThom entry. Referring to Codex II, it stated:

                "This ancient papyrus codex, written in Coptic ... around the year 100 ..."

                There was a footnote to the last phrase, referring to p.12 of Richard
                Valantasis' 1997 book, but in the cited passage (actually on p.13 of my
                copy), Valantasis was discussing the dating of the original text, not
                the Coptic codex. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the Coptic
                codex was probably produced around the mid-300's. So anyway, I
                removed the phrase "around the year 100" and its associated footnote.
                We'll see if this gets blocked, but I don't think it will, since I had put
                an explanatory note on the discussion page a few days ago.

                Mike,
                You are doing the right thing, to engage in the "discussion."
                The wrong thing is to sit here, with knowledge of the evidence, and, without engaging in the discussion, complain about Wikipedia for not providing the correct information all by themselves.

                Wikipedia is a grassroots project that depends on well-informed volunteers (like us!) to describe and analyze the topic accurately. Its editors are also volunteers. The discussions are monitored by volunteers who adhere, as much as possible, to Wikipedia standards of citing evidence and eschewing opinions. Sometimes controversial or poorly documented information is removed from the article to the discussion page, or a note such as "reference needed" or the like inserted in the text of the main article. Controversies are not new on Wikipedia. It is true that texts like GTh attract partisans with strong opinions, but these are usually managed in the discussion pages.

                I have an old copy of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. I think it was the 1967 edition. Back in those days, we depended on Encyclopedias to manage all the controversies, and the Britannica imprimatur ensured that we could rely on the contents. But the price for that was endless delays, such that by the time the entire set was published, the information was already obsolete. With the Wikipedia, the results of a paper presented at an SBL session can be incorporated within days and shared widely. And I always look for the footnotes. Wikipedia has a fairly good policy on footnotes, and the footnotes often turn out to be hot links that take you directly to the source.

                In brief, if the GTh article in the Wikipedia isn't up to snuff, it is up to *US* to make it better.

                Thanks, Mike, for your efforts in this regard.




                But to balance this view of Wikipedia, consider the following article,
                which appeared in 2005 and was cited on the b-blog "Vridar" in
                support of Wikipedia:

                http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2005/12/69844

                Thanks,
                Bob Schacht
                Northern Arizona University
              • Michael Grondin
                ... My concern is that even if it s made better, it might not stay that way unless a knowledgeable person monitors it on a continuous basis, and who s going to
                Message 7 of 12 , Mar 2, 2010
                  Bob Schacht wrote:
                  > In brief, if the GTh article in the Wikipedia isn't up to snuff,
                  > it is up to *US* to make it better.

                  My concern is that even if it's made better, it might not stay
                  that way unless a knowledgeable person monitors it on a
                  continuous basis, and who's going to be willing to spend
                  their time doing that?

                  Mike
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... IMHO, *we* should. It is our opportunity to influence what the world thinks about GTh. That will probably have more influence than anything else we do
                  Message 8 of 12 , Mar 2, 2010
                    At 09:23 PM 3/2/2010, Michael Grondin wrote:
                     

                    Bob Schacht wrote:
                    > In brief, if the GTh article in the Wikipedia isn't up to snuff,
                    > it is up to *US* to make it better.

                    My concern is that even if it's made better, it might not stay
                    that way unless a knowledgeable person monitors it on a
                    continuous basis, and who's going to be willing to spend
                    their time doing that?


                    IMHO, *we* should. It is our opportunity to influence what the world thinks about GTh.
                    That will probably have more influence than anything else we do here.

                    Bob Schacht


                  • Michael Grondin
                    I made over a dozen changes to the Wikipedia article Gospel of Thomas last week, including changes to the external links that were initially blocked. The
                    Message 9 of 12 , Mar 9, 2010
                      I made over a dozen changes to the Wikipedia article "Gospel
                      of Thomas" last week, including changes to the external links
                      that were initially blocked. The current version can be seen at:

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

                      Three article-tabs of interest:
                      "discussion": The talk page for this article.
                      "history": A complete list of changes to the article, in date order
                      (my changes are identified as 'mwgrondin').
                      "watch/unwatch": A click-tab to add this article to your watchlist,
                      or remove it, if it's already there.

                      The watchlist turns out to be less valuable than I first thought.
                      Since it only lists the *latest* change to whatever articles you're
                      watching, I've missed some edits that other users put in while
                      I was working on my own. The bottom line is that one has to
                      check the full article-history from time to time in order to make
                      sure that one is aware of all the changes to the article. (It would
                      be far better if there was a way to email all changes to a given
                      article as they occur to whoever was interested, but I can't
                      find any such functionality.)

                      To give you all an idea of the kind of changes that random users
                      make, here's one that I had to fix:

                      The original wording read:
                      "[GTh] lacks references to the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection,
                      or the final judgement..."

                      The editor changed it to read:
                      "[GTh] mentions a prophecy of the crucifixion of Jesus, but doesn't
                      mention his resurrection, or the final judgement ..."

                      ... with a footnote indicating that the "prophecy" was in logion 65
                      (i.e., the parable of tenants in the vineyard, who put the owner's
                      son to death). Other than changing the wording so that 'or' is used
                      properly, this change doesn't have much to recommend it. Obviously,
                      L65 doesn't allude to crucifixion, but more than that, there doesn't
                      seem to be any basis for calling it a 'prophecy' (which I think has to
                      occur *before* the event in question :-). The parable is in all the
                      synoptics, but Thomas lacks the afterthought of those versions
                      that the tenants will all be killed in retaliation - probably (IMO) an
                      allusion to the Jewish Rebellion of 66-75 CE.

                      Anyway, I wanted to incorporate a little something about L.65, but
                      also remove the implication of the original wording "his resurrection"
                      that in fact there was such a thing. What I settled on was this:

                      "[GTh] contains a probable allusion to the death of Jesus in
                      logion 65 (parable of the tenants in the vineyard), but doesn't
                      mention crucifixion, resurrection, or final judgement ..."

                      Now for something completely different:
                      It should be noted that the section of the Thomas article on
                      the dating controversy is long and ragged. I did a little editing of
                      the part of it that had to do with possible John-Thomas interaction,
                      but other than that I've so far left it alone. It drew a lot of attention
                      on the discussion page back in January, and I would recommend
                      that those of you who are interested in this issue take a look at
                      that section of the article and the discussion about it. You may be
                      able to come up with some improvements in organization, wording,
                      etc. Whatever changes you make, though, be sure to conform to
                      the NPOV (neutral point-of-view) standard.

                      Mike Grondin
                    • Bob Schacht
                      ... Thanks, Mike, for these important efforts. :IMHO everyone on this list should monitor the Gospel of Thomas wiki to make sure it summarizes the best
                      Message 10 of 12 , Mar 9, 2010
                        At 12:54 PM 3/9/2010, Michael Grondin wrote:
                         

                        I made over a dozen changes to the Wikipedia article "Gospel
                        of Thomas" last week, including changes to the external links
                        that were initially blocked. The current version can be seen at:

                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Thomas

                        Three article-tabs of interest:
                        "discussion": The talk page for this article.
                        "history": A complete list of changes to the article, in date order
                        (my changes are identified as 'mwgrondin').
                        "watch/unwatch": A click-tab to add this article to your watchlist,
                        or remove it, if it's already there.

                        The watchlist turns out to be less valuable than I first thought.
                        Since it only lists the *latest* change to whatever articles you're
                        watching, I've missed some edits that other users put in while
                        I was working on my own. The bottom line is that one has to
                        check the full article-history from time to time in order to make
                        sure that one is aware of all the changes to the article. (It would
                        be far better if there was a way to email all changes to a given
                        article as they occur to whoever was interested, but I can't
                        find any such functionality.)

                        To give you all an idea of the kind of changes that random users
                        make, here's one that I had to fix:

                        The original wording read:
                        "[GTh] lacks references to the crucifixion of Jesus, his resurrection,
                        or the final judgement..."

                        The editor changed it to read:
                        "[GTh] mentions a prophecy of the crucifixion of Jesus, but doesn't
                        mention his resurrection, or the final judgement ..."

                        ... with a footnote indicating that the "prophecy" was in logion 65
                        (i.e., the parable of tenants in the vineyard, who put the owner's
                        son to death). Other than changing the wording so that 'or' is used
                        properly, this change doesn't have much to recommend it. Obviously,
                        L65 doesn't allude to crucifixion, but more than that, there doesn't
                        seem to be any basis for calling it a 'prophecy' (which I think has to
                        occur *before* the event in question :-). The parable is in all the
                        synoptics, but Thomas lacks the afterthought of those versions
                        that the tenants will all be killed in retaliation - probably (IMO) an
                        allusion to the Jewish Rebellion of 66-75 CE.

                        Anyway, I wanted to incorporate a little something about L.65, but
                        also remove the implication of the original wording "his resurrection"
                        that in fact there was such a thing. What I settled on was this:

                        "[GTh] contains a probable allusion to the death of Jesus in
                        logion 65 (parable of the tenants in the vineyard), but doesn't
                        mention crucifixion, resurrection, or final judgement ..."

                        Now for something completely different:
                        It should be noted that the section of the Thomas article on
                        the dating controversy is long and ragged. I did a little editing of
                        the part of it that had to do with possible John-Thomas interaction,
                        but other than that I've so far left it alone. It drew a lot of attention
                        on the discussion page back in January, and I would recommend
                        that those of you who are interested in this issue take a look at
                        that section of the article and the discussion about it. You may be
                        able to come up with some improvements in organization, wording,
                        etc. Whatever changes you make, though, be sure to conform to
                        the NPOV (neutral point-of-view) standard.

                        Mike Grondin


                        Thanks, Mike, for these important efforts. :IMHO everyone on this list should monitor the Gospel of Thomas wiki to make sure it summarizes the best consensus of scholarly opinion about the gospel, as it evolves.  That can be an important legacy of this discussion group, and Mike has set a good example.

                        Bob Schacht
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